“Not bad for an idea dreamt up around a pub pool table,” is how success at the Linconshire Business Awards was described.
HIT Energy Services beat a host of competitors, some who had spent up to £4m on their product, in the best innovation category.
Simon and the team were shocked and overjoyed by the recognition.
They are a team of solar engineers, who have worked on some of biggest energy-generating projects for industry, farmers and power firms around the UK and Ireland.
In helping to install these solar panels and systems in fields, on barn and building roofs and other pieces of land, they developed an intimate knowledge of this developing technology.
“From carrying out this work on sites over the years, what we were finding was that people were spending millions of pounds on these systems aimed at generating large amounts of green, renewable free energy,” HIT Energy Services’ Simon Hopkins said.
“These were often farmers and small businesses and these were massive investments that they needed to bring in as much revenue as possible from to make them worthwhile.
“Engineers were rushing to install these systems, but nobody was putting any thought into what would happen when they grew old, stopped performing as much, were damaged by things like the weather, or covered in muck in farmers’ fields.”
Having been called out to more and more sites owned by frustrated farmers and business owners as their panels were either not working or failing to generate as well as they once did, they hit open an idea in the pub while playing pool.
It would be an insurance policy for people who had shelled out millions – a monitoring system attached to every site, which calculated how much energy each one should be generating compared to others in the system.
The HIT Energy Guard was born, which could send information back to the engineers and let them know what panels were underperforming and losing money.
Simon added: “What we found was some panels were operating at 90%, 70%, sometimes even 50%, which meant they could be losing the owner thousands a week.
“Some farmers weren’t even aware, but after we had fixed the problem, the energy guard means we can constantly monitor and in the future, fix any issues before they become a problem and start losing the business money.”
While it is a product developed by a small company in Lincs, it is helping businesses across the UK and even Europe through it’s independent internet signal.
Describing the award as “incredible”, Simon said: “We are a small business, a small family really more than a business and to have achieved this recognition from our idea that we came up with playing pool is amazing.”